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The Meat That Endureth

I read an article recently about a church that offered “door prizes” to visitors during their Easter service. Apparently, people were enticed to attend the service with the hopes of walking away with a brand new car, or maybe a new bicycle for their kids. The idea, according to the church’s pastor, was to provide  “An opportunity to share Christ with people who may never go to a church for any reason.”

It really seems that the people of this church had only the best intentions at heart, but it does cause us to wonder if using such gimmicks is really a solid approach to spreading the Gospel. According to Pastor Cornelius (the Corpus Christi, TX church’s pastor):

“We hope[d] to show people that while it is exciting to receive free stuff here on Earth, the greatest free gift of all time is something we haven’t yet seen, but can enjoy for all eternity.” (1)

Sounds good to me, but it did bring to my mind something that the Lord Jesus told some of the multitude of more than 5,000 whom He had fed with the five barley loaves and two fish:

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:26-27)

According to John 6:22-25, it seems that these people searched diligently to find the Lord Jesus after He had left the place of the feeding. They made their way into ships and crossed the Sea of Galilee, following Him to Capernaum, and for what? Because they had been “filled.” They weren’t seeking Jesus as their Savior, they weren’t following Him because He was the Son of God; they went after Him because He had given them something to eat. Now, most of us today cannot truly understand the importance of having food enough to eat in a day when food was scarce. Few things can seem more urgent than sustenance to a man who has spent all of his life without enough to eat. But the Lord showed them that He came to bring them so much more than just food for their bodies.

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

The Lord Jesus did not simply come to offer food for the body, but to offer Himself as “Food” for the soul. His primary purpose was not to bring bread to give life, He is the Bread of life! Many of those who were present when the Lord fed the multitudes failed to understand that the real Gift of God wasn’t the bread and the fish in the hands of the Lord Jesus, but the One holding the food. They did not look beyond what was in the hands of our Lord to see the face of the One Who came to give Himself for them.

As members of the body of Christ, are we not guilty of shifting the emphasis from the Lord Jesus Himself to what is in His hands when we seek to entice a lost and dying world into our midst with offers of gifts and prizes? Are we not perhaps sending a false message to those who are unfamiliar with the Word of God, those whom Pastor Cornelius described as “never going to a church for any reason”, when we put the emphasis on material possessions? According to the article, the Corpus Christi church gave away prizes valued in excess of $2 million, extravagant gifts indeed, but things which can be bought with money, nevertheless. It is not the things which money can buy that distinguishes the Church from a social club or charitable organization, it is that which is not purchased and that which no amount of money can secure. That is what those who never go to a church for any reason really need, and it is that which those whom the Holy Spirit is drawing into the Church are really seeking.

But we should not be surprised that the carrots dangled before the faces of the unconverted are so often offerings of material increase rather than spiritual. For how many of us within the Body of Christ have never moved beyond seeking the things in the Lord’s hands to looking for the things in His heart? How often are we guilty of seeking Him diligently, not because He is the Bread of Life, but because He has at some time provided us bread for our life? May God forgive us for setting our eyes steadfastly on His hands and not His heart and for concerning ourselves with what God gives us rather than Who He has given. Only when we understand that God has provided a Meat that endureth unto everlasting life can we rest in knowing that it is sufficient for all who seek Him.

(1) For the article from the Christian Post about this event: Click Here)

(2) For the commentary article from “Fruit of The Word” where I first read about this: Click Here)

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6 responses

  1. Loren, this is just excellent and it speaks to something that has been on my heart lately. It explains it! I find myself longing for more and more time just to “be” with Him. Not in prayer or reading His word or writing from those times (though those are all special and needed too), but just to sit and stay with Him without asking anything. Thank you Loren for pointing us to His heart. :) God bless you! deb

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  2. Loren,

    How right you are….. Jesus is our Savior “from” the sin that besets us all….. The sins that lead us to greed, jealousy, coveting, etc….. If all we look for are the things we covet, we are remaining in our sin and rejecting our Savior….. Jesus is all we really need because He is our Savior, Creator, Redeemer, Friend, High Priest, Rock, Shepherd, and everything else His word reveals.

    It’s amazing how we are so easily distracted from going to Jesus….. It should be easy to realize who is making that distraction.

    Margaret

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  3. “As the deer pants for the water brooks,
    So pants my soul for You, O God.” (Psalm 42:1 NKJV)

    That is awesome, Deb! I think we all get busy in our lives and our tendency is to just quickly ask God for the things we need in a hurried prayer and then be on our way again. But the Spirit of the Lord reminds us that the whole purpose of our creation was to fellowship with Him, and He faithfully draws us to long for more of Him.

    Thanks a lot, Deb. God bless you!

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  4. When we are hungry, a grumbling belly might seem to be the most crucial problem we are facing. But the Lord reminds us that an empty belly is no more dire than a dead and empty spirit. We might be able to feel the consequences of a starving body more than we can a starving soul, but the Lord makes it clear that it is crucial to feed them both. There is only one kind of “food” that can feed our inward man, and that is He Himself.

    It really is amazing how easily we do get distracted from taking care to go to Him for our spiritual hunger. We so often get wrapped up with just worrying about our day-to-day needs that we neglect what is going on on the inside. Thanks, Margaret, for sharing these great comments!

    “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25 NASB)

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  5. Hi Loren,

    Since I’ve been away from blogs (mine included) for quite a while, I’m playing catch-up.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you on this. In the example you used from scripture, Jesus feeding the multitudes, they were not offered a “prize” just to get them to come before Him. Even so, as you pointed out, they went after Him because He gave them something to eat. And while the pastor of that church may have had good intentions as you pointed out, the possibility of winning a car is not going to draw a person to Christ.

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  6. Thanks, Tishrei, for the great comments and for writing your great post about this whole incident in the first place :)

    It’s funny how little things have changed in 2,000 years: people are still more interested in filling their bellies and lining their pockets than being reconciled to God. We as members of the Body of Christ do not do anyone a service by enticing them to come among us with promises of material wealth or even food to eat. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen signboards or read advertisements which promised a “potluck dinner” or “free meal” to those who would show up to a particular church service. Like you said, I am sure the intentions are good, but Peter and John didn’t offer money to the paralyzed beggar (Acts 3:6), nor did Jesus fetch any water from the well for the Samaritan woman (John 4). Both of these individuals were given something worth a whole lot more than that. Oh, that we might realize the true value of the Gift that we can share with the world!

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